Now that autumn has officially begun, new grocery items are appearing on the shelves. And with the temperature cooling down, more of us spend time cooking in the kitchen, preparing stews and soups to keep all winter.
For those of us who spent our summers walking outside, it can be hard to stay motivated to exercise in the fall. Luckily, there are many local gyms and fitness centers that offer promotions and discounts.
In addition to staying active, it’s important to keep a healthy diet. And with all of the delicious foods harvested in the fall, there are new heart-healthy options to enjoy this time of year. Here are seasonal items that are good for your heart.
Now is the time to head to an orchard for apple-picking! Apples are known to lower levels of cholesterol and can help to prevent the buildup of plaque in arteries. They have high levels of pectin, which is a type of fiber, and quercetin, an antioxidant, which make them a great choice this fall. One study found that eating apples with meals helps you lose weight, which makes this fruit a great option as the holidays approach. If you don’t like eating apples raw, try them with peanut butter or use them in these healthy apple dessert recipes.
study found that eating apples with meals helps you lose weight, which makes this fruit a great option as the holidays approach. If you don’t like eating apples raw, try them with peanut butter or use them in these healthy apple dessert recipes.
Brussels sprouts aren’t usually everyone’s favorite vegetables, but they are a very heart-healthy food. They are low in calories, high in Vitamin C, and are a good source of protein, iron, potassium, and fiber. All of this can help lower cholesterol and risk of heart disease.
If you don’t like the taste, try roasting the brussels sprouts with a little salt and pepper or shaving them into a salad. And if you really don’t like them, try other leafy greens such as broccoli, collard greens, or kale.
Sweet potatoes aren’t for everyone, but they are packed with beta-carotene, which offers anti-inflammatory benefits. This vegetable also has antioxidants, potassium, and fiber, and sweet potatoes can also help lower blood sugar.
Sweet potato fries are often a healthier option when out to eat. While deep frying anything isn’t exactly healthy, opting for sweet potato fries instead of regular is usually a bit healthier. Alternatively, try these healthy sweet potato recipes.
Sometimes called a “power vegetable,” squash is high in carotenoids, antioxidants that help lower inflammation. And like fish, squash is high in omega-3 fatty acids. Yellow squash is also high in manganese, a mineral that helps the body process fats and carbohydrates.
Butternut squash makes an excellent base for soups, which you can freeze into the winter. If you don’t like the taste of roasted or grilled squash, try these recipes instead.
Roasted or raw nuts are a healthy snack for any time of the year. Nuts usually have a healthier type of fat, which can prevent heart disease. They also are high in proteins and vitamins. When choosing which type to eat, watch the calorie count. Macadamia nuts and pecans have a higher calorie count, while almonds, pistachios, and cashews are lower in calories. Try to eat unsalted nuts, and if you buy the roasted kind, make sure they were dry-roasted, not roasted in oil.
What to remember when cooking this fall
Now that the weather is cooling down, it’s a great time for new recipes. Here are tips to keep in mind when prepping with these heart-healthy foods.
- Try to avoid canned foods that contain a lot of salt. Instead, try canned foods that have no salt added or are low in sodium.
- When selecting red meat, always choose a leaner cut to reduce the amount of fat.
- Always look for reduced-fat or fat-free dairy products.
- Try substituting egg whites occasionally for egg yolks.
- Look at the ingredients of everything you buy; avoid products that have a high amount of added sugar.
- Switch out regular grains for a whole wheat variety.
Enjoy these heart-healthy fall items, and remember to check the ingredients of anything you purchase. If you have any delicious heart-healthy recipes, share them with us in the comments below.